Páirc strife is a huge embarrassment for all Cork GAA fans

Páirc strife is a huge embarrassment for all Cork GAA fans

The pitch at Páirc Uí Chaoimh cutting up badly under Wexford's Darren Byrne and Cork's Aidan Walsh. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

THIS really should be a discernibly 'new' era for Cork GAA. A bold step forward from the darker days.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh has been overhauled to bring it into the 21st century. In theory.

There is a steady supply of young players coming through from the Rebel Óg development squad system. Despite a stronger crop in hurling compared to football.

Long-serving secretary Frank Murphy has been replaced by Kevin O'Donovan, Tracey Kennedy is the chair and there are fresh faces on the executive like Joseph Blake and Marc Sheehan.

And yet the same negativity has that blighted Cork since the first player strikes in 2002 is proving hard to shift. In marketing terms, the Cork brand has serious baggage.

At times the Cork bashing that goes on nationally, and within our county bounds, is tiresome. Cork GAA is an easy target.

Yet it's impossible to defend the recent revelations about the vast overspend on the revamped Páirc, the handling of Diarmuid O'Donovan's departure as senior administrator and the write-off that is the pitch.

There was a strong argument when the overhaul was taking place that the money would have been more wisely invested in a smaller stadium outside the city bounds with a training complex attached. To be bold and modern. Instead, they opted to stick with tradition, with a view to the funding available with an eye on Ireland's failed Rugby World Cup bid.

That meant the rebuild needed to run somewhat smoothly – which it certainly didn't – and by its conclusion, the Páirc had to be a showcase for the best of Cork GAA.

It's not even capable of holding basic league games.

The Cork-Clare clash on Saturday week will certainly have a better atmosphere at Páirc Uí Rinn, but that's beside the point. Premium ticket holders, who remember coughed up €6,000 per seat, can't watch the Rebels' upcoming match in the setting they've paid for.

And a new venue has to be found for the Harty Cup final and the senior B decider on February 16. It should have been a bumper day of hurling at nearby venues.

Perhaps most disappointing is that the Cork ladies footballers, who ridiculously never got to play in the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh, could now miss out on their chance to play there. The proposed tie-in with the footballers' tie against Meath on February 23 will now hardly go ahead down by the Atlantic Pond.

The crowd would have been tiny for that football double-header but the players wouldn't have cared, there was a glamour to the bigger stadium that Páirc Uí Rinn clearly doesn't offer.

A brand new pitch is now needed for the Páirc after this year's championship is over, which will probably affect the 2020 league. What a mess.

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